Published: May 20, 2008 at 10:34 AMFirst I want to say I am so tired of hearing the word recession. The preliminary 1Q2008 GDP numbers are in and we had .6% growth. The growth was small, but it was still growth. So now in order for us to have a recession we would need negative GDP in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. As much as the media likes to perpetuate it, we are not in a recession. We may be seeing recessionary trends in certain areas of the economy, but it is not a true recession.
That being said, my wife works in the hotel industry and what those analysts are saying is that this summer and the year as a whole will be comparable to last year. Other studies have indicated that leisure travel will stay consistent. The middle class over the last several years has shown an increase in travel and number of vacations taken. I fit right in with that. I took several 5+ day weekend trips last year and I am doing the same this year. I think it is more likely that we will see a collapse next year.
Published: May 20, 2008 at 10:52 AMOfficial stats always tell you what life was like six-12 months ago. But business need to forecast what business will be like tomorrow and several months in the future. So for Q2 and Q3 of 2008, official recession or not, it's gonna be tough for a whole lotta businesses, and for those in the tourism business especially.
Economic downturns make economies more competitive, as discretionary income becomes scarce. That's why it is so important for theme parks to have new offerings this year, not just attractions and shows, but with dining, special events, tours and customer service.
Published: May 20, 2008 at 3:28 PMTell you what, if I had not booked my Williamsburg (BGE) trip almost a year ago, I would NOT be going this year. The gas for the trip in my 2007 Toyota Sienna is gonna run me about $700. That is about twice what I had originally planned.
Recession or not, gas prices are a real show stopper right now.
Published: May 20, 2008 at 12:25 PMWe made a commitment several years ago to take a big vacation at least once a year as a family. With that said, we plan well in advance for our vacation. That means money is set aside for the trip including hotel, travel by air or car, etc. As someone previously stated, our trip to BGE, Kings Dominion and touring Washington DC was paid for over 6 months ago. We're also planning a side trip to Disneyland for later in the Summer. With that said, I think regardless we would be taking a vacation. We always plan way ahead so that we are able to do something fun as a family together, away from home. I think if you plan well in advance, you will still be able to do some of the things you've done in the past. But if it becomes too much of a headache and you're having to sacrifice for a trip, it's probably better to skip it and plan for another year.
Published: May 20, 2008 at 1:02 PMI agree with Deidre. We also try to plan to go somewhere each year and plan in advance. My husband is a Memphis police officer and each year his vacation days increase allowing us to plan way in advance our trips. Plus it gives us the flexibility to go during the value times everywhere and getting our flights at decreased rates. Our sons are only 3 and 1 years old so at the moment so we don't have worry too much on paying full price for them. You just have to decide what it is you want more. For instance do you want to buy the namebrand items and have full cable lineup for the year, or do you want basic cable and buy sell items to put the extra cash towards a nice summer vacation?
Published: May 20, 2008 at 6:57 PMI think that the regional parks will do ok, as long as they have a good product. People in my neck of the woods tend to substitute the good local park flavor in Ohio for a couple of days in place of the big trip to wherever. I think that the same goes for most of the regional markets. I don't forsee a banner year for any park, but most will be fine.
Gas prices do suck don't they. They will not however, get in the way of my escape from reality/leisure time. I get about 30 mpg in my vehicle, so skipping about one night out to dinner will take care of the extra money for gas, and I will still go to the park. I have a feeling that we may be paying out the a** for gas for a while, so might as well get used to it.
Published: May 20, 2008 at 10:31 PMFor me, the most fascinating aspect of having increased overseas visitors TO the States is reading their reactions to the major theme parks, mainly from their reviews on TripAdvisor. The best ones are those reviews where they draw comparisons between parks in their native country and the ones here in the States, good or bad.
I've also found it interesting that some of the negative reviews left by foreign visitors have borne an eerie echo of my own opinions about at least Orlando, and often the other Sea World parks as well.
If the speculation about increased visits here from overseas turns out to be true, I'll be looking forward to more reading along these lines.
Published: May 21, 2008 at 3:41 AMThe key question is whether or not you believe the government reports about "5% inflation" when you've actually seen the prices of key commodities go up anywhere from 10 to 50% in the last 6 months. Regardless, we've seen how the big boys handle the economic fluctuations -- layoffs, discounting, ride "refurbishments" and the like. Perhaps the unpleasantness will shake some of the weaker players from the market...and strengthen the position of the industry dominators. We'll see. I'm holding on to my industry stock -- for the moment, anyway.
Published: May 23, 2008 at 12:34 PMLike others have stated, I too plan well in advance. In fact I'm working on next year already, and unless gas prices come down, ya right, I'll be staying closer to home here in Pennsylvania. But for this year, I'll be staying in Disney World, which I booked last summer. Had I not promised my nine year old grandson, we'd go, I would have canceled this trip. But pap-pap's never ever break a promise, at least not this one. So on June 28th,come h-ll or high gas prices, we'll be on our way to Florida. See y'all down there.
Published: May 22, 2008 at 11:26 AMPenn & Teller: Bullsh#t!, a Showtime series, had an excellent episode on the middle class. The media has fed us this heap about how the middle class in America keeps suffering, but there is sufficient evidence to say the middle class is doing better than ever. Properties are larger, cars are more luxurious, and families as a whole are taking more vacations. It's just that we feel we're suffering because nothing is ever enough.
I just got back from Orlando, and I'm already bored and ready for another trip. For the record, we took a group of eight and split the gas eight ways. We drove down from Ottawa, Ontario, and it cost each of us about $80, or $640 total, if I'm not mistaken.